Women are still paid 83 cents for every dollar men earn. this is why

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The “gap” between how much money men and women are paid has long been a feature of the American economy.

While that wage differential has narrowed since the 1960s, progress appears to have slowed over the past decade or more, a dynamic that has big implications for women’s financial security and well-being, experts say.

“What you’ll find is that no matter how you measure it, there’s a pay gap,” said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. “It has a huge impact on lifetime earnings.”

Here’s the clearest measure of the disparity: In 2020, women earned 83 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to to the US Census Bureau (Analysis measures median wages for full-time, year-round workers ages 15 and older.)

In other words: it would be drink about 40 additional days of work for women to earn a comparable wage.

Women of color are at an even greater disadvantage. For example, Black women were paid 64% and Hispanic women 57% of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2020, according to to the US Department of Labor

“There is still a significant gap,” said Richard Fry, a principal investigator at the Pew Research Center. “It hasn’t gone down much in the last 15 years.”

More narrow?

In 1960, the national wage gap was much larger; at the time, women earned 61 cents for every dollar of men’s wages.

Since then, women have made great strides in both education and work experience, which employers tend to reward with higher wages, Fry said.

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Young women are more likely to enroll in college than young men, and women 25 and older are more likely to have a four-year college degree. according to it’s Pew.

Americans have also seen many changes in US law and culture: stricter enforcement of laws against pay discrimination, and changes in expectations and understanding of women in the workforce, according to Emily Martin. , vice president for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center.

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The problem, experts say, is not just that women’s pay continues to lag overall. The wage gap persists when comparing women and men of similar levels of education, occupation, income, and race.

In fact, a recent analysis by Gould found that progress has stalled for more than two decades: In 2021, women earned about 80 cents for every dollar of men’s wages, little changed from about 77 cents in 1994, after controlling for differences in education, age, geography, race and ethnicity. .


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But the pay gap isn’t just attributable to the jobs a woman might choose. Even within female-dominated jobs, women are paid less than men, on average, Glynn and Boesch wrote. Average wages within occupations also tend to fall when women enter in large numbers because their work is so “undervalued,” they added.

Additionally, about 42% of working women have experienced gender discrimination at work, nearly twice as many as men, according to a 2017 Pew study. poll.

That included making less money, being treated as incompetent, being passed over for promotions and important assignments, and receiving less support from senior leadership, for example.


But history suggests that the gap will widen.

In 2000, the typical 16-29 year old woman working full-time, year-round earned 88% of the salary of a similar man. By 2019, when they were between the ages of 35 and 48, women earned just 80% of their male peers, on average, according to Pew.

“Their advantages and compensation relative to men are narrower early in their careers,” Fry said. “Any parity they currently experience may not last as they age.”


This is not to say that all women earn less than men. There is no earnings gap in a small subset of occupations, such as phlebotomists, electricians, and social workers, according to to the Census Bureau.

But taken together, the wage gap contributes to lower overall wealth for women.

The wealth gap is more difficult to measure than wages, since wealth is often measured at the household (not individual) level. But a 2021 to study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which analyzed female-headed households relative to male-headed ones, found that the typical woman had just 55 cents for every dollar a man had.

Continuing to close the gender pay gap relies heavily on public policy changes to ameliorate structural problems, according to Martin: investments in childcare infrastructure, paid family and medical leave, higher minimum wages, and stronger equal pay laws. strict, for example, he said.

There has been some traction toward pay equity: Nearly two dozen states and as many cities have barred prospective employers from asking applicants questions about salary history, for example, according to the website. HR Dive. (Some states have gone the other way, to the threatening such prohibitions).

Individual actions and attitudes can also help influence change, Martin said.

That could include trying to break down the barriers around pay secrecy — requiring that an employer be more open to sharing details and making decisions related to pay in the workplace, he said.

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